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Ghost Stories
Grave Importance
See Through To It


The World of Hybrids
The Stuff of Legends
The Birth of Legends [Worldbuilding]
Ideal With It
A Little Harmony
Out of My League


The World Made From A Wish
Type-Casting
The Final Front


Of Mana and Ether
Witch One?


Sisters of One Mind
An Open Book
Ever Mindful


Paths of a Fashion
Crossing Paths
Parallel Paths


Zzz... (Old, Iffy, Unsorted)
Focus
The World Was Made From A Wish
A Curious Kind of Tree





Crossing Paths

An urban legend says that, should any two people collide with each other while crossing a certain intersection, those two are fated to be together.

But those are just urban legends.

——

Kimura could not believe that today, of all days, had to be rainy. A rainy day was never a good one.

She had planned a much better day that it looked like it was going to actually be. Now it seemed better to just go home and curl up in bed. In fact, that's exactly what she was going to do.

Yet for now, she had to trudge along in the rain, letting her neat black hair and favorite dark purple jacket get soaking wet, thinking of what could have been -

Suddenly, she slipped, and splashed on the ground.

"Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!"

As Kimura got herself up from the wet ground, it took her a good while to process everything.

1. In her absentmindedness, she had bumped into someone else, causing both of them to slip and fall.

2. That someone else was now apologizing to her. And was dressed horribly inappropriately for the weather.

Kimura thought herself caught off-guard by the rain, having not brought an umbrella, but this was something else. The girl was wearing an exceedingly frilly pink dress, with pink bows and ribbons and...

"I'm Momoko. What's your name?"

...and while her voice was sickeningly sweet, Kimura could tell she was probably too old to be wearing that kind of outfit.

Hold on. Why was the girl introducing herself?

Kimura noticed a small crowd had formed around them, distinct from the crowd that bustled across the intersection. Some of them had their phones out, taking pictures and laughing.

Oh, no. That's right.

3. It was that intersection.

Somebody thought it would be "funny" to spread a myth about people bumping into each other on this intersection and getting together. Probably to help tourism or something.

Kimura hardly took it seriously, of course, but she dreaded this very circumstance ever befalling her, because other people certainly did. The crowd was laughing it up over how this smartly-dressed (albeit rain-soaked) woman's "soul mate" was a petite girl in pink lolita fashions.

And that girl seemed to believe it, too.

Kimura wanted none of this. Absolutely none of this. As soon as she was standing up again, she stormed off.

"Wait!", Momoko shouted after her. "At least tell me your name!"

But Kimura had vanished into the crowd, which quickly reassumed its formlessness.

——

A friend of hers passed her a magazine at lunch. "See someone familiar, Kimura?"

Kimura took a glance at the photo and sighed. "Isn't there anything better in this city for those things to talk about?"

"You have to admit, it's pretty funny."

"I hardly have to admit that," Kimura contested.

He put up his hands. "Hey, I'm not making fun of your misfortune, per se. Lolita girl in the rain is good as it is, but throw in some urban myth and some total contrast? That's gold, my friend."

Kimura rolled her eyes. She was just glad people had such a short-term memory for this stuff.

It was a big city. They had never met before - she certainly would have remembered that - and would never meet again. So that was that.

"No kidding about the girl, though," Kimura said, sipping her coffee. "I should hope she'll reconsider wearing that get-up from now on, especially so long as rain is a thing that exists."

"You never met one of those lolita girls before?", her friend asked.

"No, and I'm not sure I want to meet another. She told me her name was Momoko, and let's be honest here, there is no way that's her real -"

"I FOUND HER I FOUND HER!"

Kimura whipped around to the source of the shrieking. And it was -

Actually, it wasn't Momoko. But it was a girl in gothic lolita yelling into her phone.

So that couldn't be good.

"Sorry but as I'm sure you understand I have to go," Kimura quickly told her friend before gathering her things and taking off running.


Momoko fumbled to answer her phone, then heard her friend's report.

"Really?!", she asked, almost unable to believe it. "Where is she? Where are you, Tamiko?"

"I'm at the café right now! She was talking with a guy over lunch!"

"Go on!", Momoko insisted.

"Her friend called her "Kimura"! So that's probably her name!"

"Alright!" Momoko victoriously pumped her fist into the air. "Anything else, Tamiko?"

"Well, right after I called you, she apologized to her friend and ran away!"

Momoko stopped in her tracks for a moment.

"And why didn't you follow her?!"

"Umm..." Tamiko gulped. "Because it felt more proper for you to know her name first."

Momoko's anger was instantly quelled. "No, you know, you're right. I'm sorry for yelling, Tamiko."


Kimura stopped running only once she started to feel really tired. She leaned on a lamp post momentarily to catch her breath.

This was unimaginable. Was the pink lolita on a manhunt for her? And did she have a partner in crime to spy for her? ...Seriously?!

At least it didn't look like the gothic lolita had actually given chase, too busy reporting every detail to her superior. That was pretty creepy to think about. How long had she been there?

...When would she be safe?

"...rdly your fault, Tamiko. You did your best, and that's what - WHOA!"

Kimura felt someone bump into her from behind and fall to the ground, a cellphone clattering with them.

She slowly turned around and sighed.

"Does this make me double lucky?", Momoko said, smiling up at her.

——

Kimura could run no more. And even if she could, she felt it would be impossible to escape the... um. Lolita spies, apparently.

Momoko insisted that they go out to lunch. She must not have heard the part about Kimura just coming from lunch, or maybe she didn't care, as Momoko claimed to have not had anything to eat all day.

Kimura would certainly believe it, as the girl devoured her meal in record time. Meanwhile, she barely took a bite of hers.

Which Momoko noticed. "What's wrong?", she asked.

Kimura had to keep herself from laughing. Oh, nothing was wrong, she just got forced to go to a second lunch with a girl way into lolita who she bumped into on a rainy day, after her first lunch was interrupted thanks to said girl's - okay, fine, she'd drop the "lolita spies" thing, she thought - thanks to her... enthusiastic stalker friend. Yeah. But nothing wrong.

Kimura noticed Momoko had already started taking food from her plate.

"...That's rather rude," she sighed.

"Yuh didn't look like yuh wanhed et." Momoko swallowed.

"Don't talk with your mouth full! That's rude, too!"

While Momoko worked on her second meal, Kimura considered what to say to disarm the situation. She wasn't yet sure what Momoko "wanted" from her, though, so it wasn't easy.

She waited until Momoko had taken (and swallowed) her last bite. "Look, I'm sure you believe some funny things about -"

"Oh gosh!", Momoko suddenly exclaimed. "I just remembered we never said our proper introductions! Since you ran off the other day, and..."

Kimura's eyebrows lowered. "You're worried about etiquette after having your friend track me down? And eavesdrop to learn my name?"

"Well I never would've done that if you hadn't so rudely left me in the rain," Momoko haughtily replied. "That's total disregard for how it's supposed to work!"

"If I had a spare umbrella, I would've given it to you," Kimura shrugged. "I'm not a jerk. But I'm not obligated to play along with every little urban legend."

Momoko grumbled, as if to say Kimura was obligated. But she was getting sidetracked.

"Right, anyway." She put on a big smile. "I'm Momoko! As you can probably tell, I'm big into lolita fashion."

"Rain or shine," Kimura sneered.

"I'll have you know I have some very cute umbrellas, as long as I'm prepared enough to take them with me. I also have some really supportive friends, like you've already met! We're sort of a..."

Momoko couldn't seem to find the right word, so Kimura made a guess. "Secret agency?"

"I don't know about that," Momoko laughed. "We'd kinda prefer to be more public than secret, for one thing."

"And do all your names end with "ko"?"

Momoko's shoulders shifted. "...Yes, but that's besides the point. I mean, coincidental. It's just a thing."

"Incidentally, are you still in school?", Kimura asked, taking charge of the conversation.

"No, I'm, uh, out of it."

"And work?"

"Wwwwworking on it." Momoko cleared her throat. "Anyway, enough about me!" She gestured at Kimura. "How about your introduction?"

"Kimura, as you already learned by underhanded means. I'm a writer." She shrugged. "Not much else to say, really."

"Wow!" Momoko beamed. "You're a writer? That's really cool!" She thought for a second. "Don't writers get, like, a ton of time off, though? So I'm just saying, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to jump on me for -"

"It's a very busy job, trust me," Kimura interrupted, defensive. "I don't get to play dress-up."

"Aww," Momoko frowned. "Too bad."

Kimura responded with a low chuckle. Then it was quiet for a while.

"Sooo..." Momoko broke the silence. "Anything you wanna talk about with me?"

All of a sudden, Kimura became aware of how this second lunch was turning out, and reminded herself what she had wanted it to be: over quick.

"No, there's nothing to talk about," she flatly replied. "Except how I hope we never have to meet again just because of your insistence on that stupid urban legend."

"Stupid?!" Momoko was plainly offended.

Her peppiness seemed to leave her, though only very slightly "You know why people make up legends like that, right?", Momoko asked, wringing her hands. "Right?"

Kimura just stared back at her. No, she didn't; but of course, she didn't see why she would ever think about such a thing.

"Legends like that..." She paused. "They're like the spice of life. Everyone always gets in their usual routines and repeats them over and over and over, but with legends like that? One day something magical can happen and -"

Momoko stopped herself and sat back down. She had gotten very passionate about that. Kimura, though, seemed about as indifferent as ever.

"Well, anyway. I'll pay for all the food, since I ate all of it."

Kimura was glad to hear that. She got up to leave, but Momoko grabbed her arm a moment later.

"Oh, I almost forgot! We need to trade numbers."

"Need to?!" Was this a date?!

"Well, I guess not technically," Momoko conceded. "But Tamiko WILL track you down again if we don't."

It was silent.

Momoko clasped her hands and sighed. "...I should probably talk to her about that someday."

——

Kimura didn't call; Momoko didn't expect her to.

Momoko wanted to call, but she had to figure something out first, and this took her days.

Her phone rang. She jumped, but it was just Tamiko, as usual.

They talked about the usual, too. But once that was done, Tamiko asked "So how's it going with Kimura?"

"I'm still... thinking," Momoko replied.

"Yeah? About what?"

"I don't know what to get her!", she desperately cried. "I know her name, I know she's a writer, but she wasn't forthcoming with anything else. And you don't just give writers, like... pens. That's not a good gift."

"Hmm... Don't know enough about her?" Tamiko pondered. "Well you know, I could always -"

"Please, Tamiko," Momoko begged into the phone.

"Oh, all right," she groaned, thinly trying to hide her disappointment. "But is it really necessary to get her a gift? Like, already?"

"Let's be honest here, okay? I don't think she likes me. Like, at all." Momoko sighed. "I want to make sure we start off on the right foot, as much as we can at this point. I feel like a thoughtful gift is, like..." She paused. "The only way I can prove I'm not just an annoyance."

"Because it's fate?", Tamiko asked.

"Because it's fate. Yeah. I don't wanna mess this up."

"Can you mess up fate, though?", Tamiko wondered with genuine curiosity. "Fate's supposed to mean it'll happen even if you try your darnedest to stop it. So as long as you really believe it -"

"I do," Momoko promptly answered, as if already at her wedding.

"Then why not just be yourself? Call her up and tell her what's true. That's pretty much how you ended up with us too, right?"

She was absolutely right. "Thank you so much, Tamiko, you're absolutely right! Love you, bye!"

Momoko hung up and quickly dialed Kimura.

"Hello!"

"Oh," Kimura muttered, as if she already regretted answering.

"Can I come over to your place?"

There was a pause. "It's eleven at night. Is this a visit I could possibly talk you out of?"

"Probably not!"

——

Momoko got there around 11:30, dressed the same way Kimura had always seen her. She sat on the bed, and Kimura remained in her chair.

"Now it must be past your bedtime," Kimura chuckled.

Momoko rolled her eyes. Before anything else, she wanted to set this straight. "You're not my mother, and I make my own bedtime. I'm twenty-two."

Kimura recoiled. "Y-Years old?"

"Yeah."

"Well, er..." She was suddenly nervous. "Maybe I'm not old enough to be your mother, then, but... um..."

Momoko tilted her head. "How old are you, Kimura?"

"RUDE!" She looked away. "...I'm... twenty-two, too."

"Wooow!" Momoko's eyes sparkled. "You're so mature!"

"And you're so immature," Kimura grumbled.

"No, see, this is what I'm talking about. You thought I was way younger because of what I wear, right?" Momoko looked distraught at the thought of it. "You think lolita is just something for kids?" Kimura was silent.

"Lolita's for everyone, and there's nothing immature about it. I mean -"

Kimura interrupted. "Look, no, I'm not even talking about your fashion. You look great in it."

She realized what she said. "I mean - look - well..." She stumbled over her words. "It's... kind of cute." Momoko nearly squealed.

"Anyway," said Kimura, shaking her head, "what I was talking about was how... you don't know where you're going. Yes, you dress up with your friends, that's all well and good. But is that going to get you anywhere in life?"

Momoko lowered her head. "Well... Yeah, you're kinda right about that. We're hoping some good opportunity crops up." She looked back up and smiled. "But at least I have friends in the same boat!"

Seeing Kimura's reaction, she wanted to take that part back. "No, uh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean that as an insult to you or anybody! Really!"

Kimura wordlessly swiveled the chair over to her computer, and Momoko perked up. "Oh, yeah! So what are you working on right now?" She picked herself up off the bed to lean over Kimura's shoulder.

"Working on...?"

"You know, your current story! Writers always have to be writing something or another, right?"

"Yes, well..." Kimura paused to think. "It's about a... wizard, who goes to save a... a princess, and... has to fight his demon classmates... basically."

Momoko stared blankly, then smiled somewhat weakly. "...Still working through some ideas?"

"Yes."

"Need any of mine?", she asked with a bigger smile.

"NO. ...I mean, no. That's unlikely."

"Aw, well. Yours sound pretty cool," Momoko said, falling back on the bed. "Of course, I think it's pretty amazing you can do that at all."

"Do what, exactly?", Kimura wondered.

"Come up with enough ideas to fill a book. I mean, it's kinda silly since I don't know why we'd do this, but if me and the girls tried to write a book, we'd probably work through a ton of lame ideas before we came up with something decent." Momoko sat up. "And you have to do all that yourself!"

Kimura chuckled and stood up. "Well, don't make a hard job any harder," she said, gesturing to the door.

In truth, though, Momoko had gotten her thinking about a lot of things she otherwise wouldn't be.

Momoko knew it was time for her to go. But she remembered her former intention to bring a gift, and felt it wouldn't be right to forgo that after all.

She removed her biggest, pinkest bow1 and offered it to Kimura with a bow2. "Here."

Kimura eyed it doubtfully. "Trying to get me into lolita, too?"

"Not if you don't want to," Momoko said, still bow2ing. "But you did say it was..." She relished the word. "...cute."

Kimura nodded and took the bow1. Momoko stood up. "Don't worry, I have lots more where that came from. Although, I'm starting to think I could add more dark purples these days..."

"As opposed to a bombardment of pink?" Kimura smiled. "...Sounds good to me."

After Momoko left, Kimura looked over the bow1. She put it on her head and started typing away on the computer.

She must have looked ridiculous, she thought.

But she felt so cute.

——

"Ahahahahaha" were the first words out of his mouth.

Well, not words, really. But yeah.

Kimura wasn't laughing. "I did the best I could to match it with what I had in my wardrobe, thank you very much."

"Kimura, I think we can all agree it'd be "best" if you never wore that silly thing again."

She was not a part of that "we." She shook her head, letting the floppy bow bounce, and didn't let her friend's disdain ruin her lunch.

Not long after she was done, she got a phone call.

"Who is it?", her friend asked.

Kimura knew who it was. And when she didn't answer, but instead started blushing, her friend knew as well.

"Writing must not be paying the bills, huh?", he asked between bouts of hysterical laughter.

"Why do you say that?", Kimura asked through clenched teeth.

"Can't think of why else you would take up babysitting."


"...Hello? Kimura?"

All Momoko could hear for a while was muffled noise, and what might have been something shattering. Then she heard Kimura's voice clearly. "Sorry you had to hear that. What's up?"

"Huh? I didn't hear anything... I think there was some bad reception."


"Anyway," Momoko continued, "we should go out to dinner tonight."

Kimura was surprised. But they had had lunch together, so dinner wasn't much of a leap, was it? She wondered why, though. "Any particular reason?"

"Yeah, actually, there kinda is. Usually I go to dinner with the girls every Friday, but everyone has their own plans tonight. And... you know, you were my first choice."

Behind Kimura, Tamiko spoke up. "I can attest to having plans tonight!" Kimura wasn't even surprised to see her there - after all, maybe Tamiko just liked this café as much as she did.

"That's quite a coincidence," Kimura remarked.

"It sure is!"

"Can I be sure you girls didn't just plan that together?"

"I don't know, can you?" Momoko paused. "...C-Can you?"

Kimura looked toward Tamiko. And if she was any indication, Momoko was likely sweating just as nervously over the phone.

On the other hand, it was probably all those layers she was wearing.

"Oh well. At any rate, it's a d... inner," Kimura answered. "It's a dinner."

——

Momoko was overjoyed to see Kimura wearing the bow to dinner.

Herself, she had reworked her outfit somewhat. It was still primarily pink - there would be no changing that - but she mixed it with various shades of purple, as promised.

They didn't talk much as they ate, and this time, they did eat together. Perhaps there wasn't much to say - in a good way this time.

When they were both done, Kimura wondered. Should she say it?

Maybe she should say it.

"...We're totally dating now, aren't we."

"I'd certainly be happy if we were! I mean, um!" Momoko covered her mouth.

Kimura shrugged. "Okay, well, if it makes you happy to think so."

"Eeeee!"

Kimura leaned back in her seat and pondered on that.

Dating, huh.

"I'll admit, I thought of you as... kind of an aberration, at first." Kimura felt cruel saying it, but it had been the truth. "Something that just didn't fit. And I'm not yet convinced I was entirely wrong."

Momoko gave her a worried look.

"But I think I underestimated, well..." Kimura looked away shyly. "How much I could appreciate someone like that."

"I know exactly what you mean," Momoko said with a smile. "Now you understand why I love that legend about the intersection so much, right?"

Kimura figured she probably did, but wanted to hear Momoko say it.

"Two people, secretly destined for each other, and they meet by total chance, a clumsy accident! How crazy is that? It's a total fantasy, right? But if you look at how people really, truly meet each other, that's far from being the most unlikely thing that's ever happened."

"For a "legend," it's more true to life than you'd really expect. And I love to believe that it's really, a hundred percent true!" She took a breath. "But I can see why it wouldn't be. It's not always gonna work out between them, that's for sure."

"And if that were just that, it just... doesn't work out most of the time, then I'd be more iffy on the truth of the thing. But when you just make the attempt - you let someone into your life you never would've known, and that can have a huge impact!"

"Nobody betters themselves if they're surrounded by same-ies, right? It's really hard to, at least. So a legend that can bring together total opposites, like you and me..." She blushed. "Well, that's something everyone from benefit from, I think."

Kimura listened to all this with her chin in her hands. If she had any doubts about Momoko's age, they were gone - she couldn't believe how passionately she spoke.

"Wow," Kimura said. "You know, have you ever considered giving up fashion for writing?"

She was bewildered. "What?! No way!"

"You don't think you could write?", Kimura said, doubting it.

Momoko shook her head. "No, not that. You said "give up fashion," and why would I do that? Nothing's going to stop me from dressing the way I love to."

"Oh. Sorry, I... don't know why I said that. But have you considered writing?"

"Nah. If you think I could, though..." She seemed to be fantasizing.

"Oh, that reminds me," Kimura realized. "If we're going to keep, um... dating, then maybe you should call me Sakiko."

"Ooh?!" Momoko snapped out of her daydream. "A nickname like mine? And - ohhh, "mura-saki," like purple! I get it!"

"No, no..." Kimura sighed. "It's my given name. Kimura is my family name."

"So your favorite color just happens to be the one in your name? Speaking of fate..."

"Well, a pun isn't going to stop me from liking the colors I like either," she smiled. "And I decided I'd prefer to tell you now, before you see it on the cover of my first book."

"Wait, wait." Momoko leaned on the table with great interest. "What is your first book going to be, uh, Sakiko?"

"I'm not sure of the title yet, but it's about this woman in purple who happens to meet a woman in pink..."

"Sounds sorta unoriginal," Momoko laughed.

Sakiko smirked back. "Well, do you have any better ideas?"

"Well, if you wanna know..."


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